New Committee to Sift Geography Meets Today
Buck Names Group to Reopen Year-Old Problem of Field; Mather and Ullman on List
Fifteen months of protest, reports, and student investigations bear fruit for Harvard geography today when a special committee from the faculty meets with Provost Buck to "study the place of geography at Harvard in all its aspects."
In revealing the formation of the new committee, Buck stated that it would decide "what to reinstate" as well as consider the place of the field in the curriculum. The new group is a creation of the Committee on Education Policy.
University geographers were unanimous yesterday in approving the new move. One, declining to be quoted by name said: "This is an indication that the administration is sorry that it closed out geography and is making a sincere effort to bring the field."
The new committee was drawn, Buck said, "from existing departments of the faculty which have an interest in geography." Donald G. Mckay, professor of History, is chairman. Other members of the group are:
Karl Sax, professor of Botany; Alexander Gerschenkron, associate professor of Economics; Kirtley F. Mather, professor of Geology; Arthur A. Mass, Instructor in Government; Frederick Merk, Gurney Professor of History and Political Science; George C. Homans, associate professor of Sociology; and Edward L. Ullman, assistant professor of Regional Planning.
The Geography controversy began in February 1948 when the University terminated the temporary appointments of two faculty members in the division. Stripped to one permanent geography appointee, Professor Derwent S. Whittlesey, the Department of Geology and Geography was forced to abolish Geography as a field of concentration.
In turn, many undergraduates had to change their fields last spring. According to administration sources, the measure was primarily an economy move. "Harvard cannot hope to have a strong departments in everything," a highranking University official said at the time.
In a statement to the CRIMSON on March 15, 1948, Professor Mather stated that he had "hoped for expansion rather than contraction" in the University's Geography staff and termed Human Geography "one of the most significant fields for study in modern life."
Asked this week about his appointment to the special committee, Mather declined to discuss the new group until its first meeting today. But he added that he was "very happy that the committee has been appointed. It will be a good thing for the University's," he said.
Other members of the special group were equally reticent pending the opening meeting.
In releasing news of the new committee, Buck said that "the Committee on Educational Policy has been considering the place of geography in the Harvard curriculum."
A report from the Board of Overseers, believed to have recommended reinstatement of Geography, was referred to the Committee on Educational Policy early this term. Buck denied, however, that this report was the main factor in the setting up of the special body. "We've been considering it for longer than that," he said.
After an investigations last spring the Student Council called upon the University to look into the question again, with a view to reviving the field. The Council's action was followed last fall by a report of the Graduate Council.
Meanwhile, Edward Ackerman, former assistant professor, and Richard Logan, former instructor, the two men dropped last year, have moved to higher posts elsewhere. Ackerman is now a full professor at Chicago University, while Logan is an assistant professor, at UCLA in charge of the field training program there